Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Thursday, 23rd January, 2020 7.30 pm

Venue: New Council Chamber - Town Hall, Reigate. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services (01737 276182)  Email: Democratic@reigate-banstead.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

25.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 118 KB

To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the previous meeting.

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Minutes:

RESOLVED – the Minutes of the previous meeting on 17 December 2019 were approved as a correct record and signed.

26.

Apologies for absence and substitutions

To receive any apologies for absence and notification of any substitute Members in accordance with the Constitution.

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Minutes:

Committee Members: Councillor K. Sachdeva and Councillor S. Walsh.

Councillor F. Kelly (substituted by Councillor R. Michalowski).

 

27.

Declarations of interest

To receive any Declarations of Interest (including the existence and nature of any Party Whip).

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Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

28.

Annual Community Safety Partnership Scrutiny pdf icon PDF 991 KB

To review the work of the East Surrey Community Safety Partnership 2019/20.

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Minutes:

Members reviewed the work of the East Surrey Community Safety Partnership 2019/20. Cllr R. Ashford, Portfolio Holder for Community Partnerships, gave an overview of the Council’s community safety work. The Council’s community safety and anti-social behaviour officers work closely in partnership with Surrey Police, Surrey County Council, schools and other council teams such as housing and the Joint Enforcement Team (JET) to support its four community safety priorities. These are: tackling anti-social behaviour, preventing domestic abuse and serious organised crime and undertaking anti-terrorist Prevent duties.

Cllr Ashford introduced Insp Angie Austin, Borough Commander for Reigate and Banstead, who attended the meeting, gave a presentation and answered questions from Members. The Reigate and Banstead Specialist Neighbourhood Team priorities were: protecting vulnerable people, targeting prolific offenders, high harm crimes and crimes which have a serious impact on the community and engaging with hard to reach communities.

Inspector Austin highlighted the key areas of policing activity in the borough over the past twelve months, including cuckooing, tackling county-lines drug dealing, child sexual exploitation and identifying and dealing with prolific offenders for firearms, money laundering, drug manufacture and supply, assaults and knife crime.

Police officers continued to engage with hard to reach communities and worked with community development workers to run sessions for example with elderly groups.  They had good contacts with the local mosques and the local Asian Social Group. They wanted to engage more with disability groups and asked Members for their support to work with these groups.

Insp Austin concluded that officers were active in the Borough although they were not always visible to the public due to the high number of 999 calls and work involved with supervising prisoners.

The Head of Community Partnerships set out the Borough’s work on community safety which included statutory responsibilities to work with partners, including the police, to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour, lead management of domestic homicide reviews and manage public space protection orders. Non-statutory activities included overseeing CCTV and tackling domestic abuse although the latter work will become a statutory duty after new domestic abuse laws come into force. In the last year, the Council had employed a new community safety officer and a part-time anti-social behaviour co-ordinator, both from police backgrounds. This meant that the Council was tackling anti-social behaviour at a faster pace than before.

The Council’s Community Safety Officer gave an overview of the Council’s work on its community safety priorities which included working closely with partners to deliver more effective joint enforcement activities to respond to and reduce anti-social behaviour. One example of the problem-solving approach to the work was targeting aggressive begging on the streets, often linked to Serious Organised Crime groups. They also worked with individuals who were rough sleepers to help them get the support they need and take them off the streets.

The Community Safety team works closely with East Surrey Domestic Abuse Service (ESDAS) to raise awareness of domestic abuse. This included holding a successful event at the Harlequin theatre in Redhill called  ...  view the full minutes text for item 28.

29.

Portfolio Holder Briefings - People Portfolios pdf icon PDF 106 KB

To receive a briefing from the People Portfolio Holders regarding the People business area and their portfolios and to consider any issues that arise.

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Minutes:

Members received a briefing from the People Portfolio Holders regarding the People service areas and considered any issues arising from their presentations.

The Director of People Services introduced the item and the three portfolio areas which were: Housing and Benefits, Wellbeing and Intervention and Community Partnerships.

Cllr G. Knight,  Portfolio Holder for Housing and Benefits, gave an overview on housing services and revenue, benefits and fraud. Highlights included homelessness prevention (252 positive outcomes where this was prevented – 96 more than last year) and successful use of emergency accommodation in Horley (which saved around £180k a year on bed and breakfast accommodation). Forty-three affordable and social rented homes have been delivered during the first two quarters of 2019/20. It was examining the affordable housing economic viability qualifications and working with social housing providers to fulfil the criteria which was part of the Housing Delivery Strategy. Projects such as Lee Street, Cromwell Road and Pitwood Park developments were getting underway to deliver more housing.

Universal Credit (UC) was being rolled out gradually in the borough. Raven Housing Trust was performing above the national average to reduce arrears of those receiving UC – an average £589 UC debt compared with £774 national average. It supported Raven’s initiative to help people move to the right size homes to free up larger homes for families.

Over 50 per cent of the 19 people in bed and breakfast accommodation in any week were single people with complex needs which was increasing. The four units in Lee Street, Horley would be aimed at accommodating single people and they were looking at best practice projects working with single homeless people. A project in Leatherhead had been visited, called LeatherHead Start.

Members made comments in the discussion that followed which included:

·         Universal credit – Members asked if people were generally worse off due to the introduction of Universal Credit (UC) and how people were helped to be debt free when there was a five-week delay in payments. It was noted that the Council worked with Raven Housing Trust to help people through the first few weeks such as getting advice from the Money Support Team. It was noted that 700 Raven tenants were claiming UC which was increasing by 12 – 15 households per week. There was no date yet from the Department for Work and Pensions when the full roll out of UC was going to take place.

·         Empty homes – a number of properties were known to be empty and the Council have tried to engage with some owners to bring them back into use as a private rented accommodation or to find another solution.

·         Cromwell Road and Pitwood Park – it was confirmed that the forecast completion date of June 2021 was realistic. A budgetary review of the Pitwood Park development had been carried out as the government’s scheme on starter homes (on which this project was based) had not materialised and the tenure mix and market had changed as well as Members’ appetite for  ...  view the full minutes text for item 29.

30.

Leader's Update

To receive an update on the work of the Council and future plans.

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Minutes:

Members received an update from Cllr M. Brunt, Leader of the Council, who gave an overview of the work of the Council. This included the new Housing Delivery Strategy which was a fresh approach to housing, the 2020-25 Corporate Plan and the ongoing work on the Council’s environmental sustainability strategy. The Council was planning to work in partnership with a housing trust to bring forward the development of housing schemes in the Borough with a focus on affordable housing. Cllr Brunt noted that the Budget for 2020/21 and beyond included investment in people and skills so the Council would be fit for purpose to face the challenges coming in the next five years.

Members asked about the proposed budget for developing the environmental sustainability strategy and also proposed investment on working with young people. It was confirmed that £30m was pledged to spend on additional housing over the next three years; £250k was set in the budget to resource proposed climate change initiatives. There was no specific budget for work with young people at this stage – resources would be largely officer time to build good relationships with youth groups and to enable groups to make use of Surrey County Council’s buildings that were being made available.

RESOLVED – that the update from the Leader of Council, Cllr M. Brunt be noted.

31.

Budget 2020/21 and Capital Programme 2020 to 2025 pdf icon PDF 160 KB

To consider the updated elements of the Budget 2020/21 and Capital Programme 2020 to 2025 Proposals.

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Minutes:

Members considered the latest Budget proposals for 2020/21 and the Capital Programme 2020 to 2025 which were set out in a report to the Committee. This information was not yet available when the Budget Scrutiny Panel met in November. This gave Members an opportunity to provide any further feedback to the Executive for its meeting on 30 January 2020.

Portfolio Holder for Finance, Cllr T. Schofield, gave an overview of the report. He said that the proposals for Central Budgets were set out in considerable detail and he thanked the Finance team for providing this level of granularity.

The Central Budgets 2020/21 had been reviewed and rationalised and the recommended changes set out in the report. These included resetting the Headroom Contingency budget (set up in 2012 to address any significant unplanned expenses that might arise in-year) to £1m. The review recommended taking out the £0.5m revenue budget for contributions to the Capital Programme. It recommended removing the £100k budget for redundancy costs as there were no significant structural changes planned next year. A budget of £0.730m was included for forecast contractual pay increases. The New Posts Budget was to be replaced with an increase in the New Posts Reserve to accommodate mid-year staffing changes.

The Employer Pension Contributions budget had been updated to reflect the outcome of the 2019 Pension Fund Revaluation. The recommended approach was to maintain the primary employer contribution rate at 15% of salaries and to pay the secondary employer rate as a lump sum of £6.204m upfront rather than three annual instalments. This gave the Council a discount and saved £400k over three years.

The Capital Programme over the next five years was set out in the report. This included more investment in maintenance of Strategic Property and investment in IT services and the Harlequin. The Housing Delivery Strategy budget includes investment of £30m over three years from 2020/21 to 2022/23 funded in part through the allocation of resources equivalent to the value of New Homes Bonus receipts. The Commercial Investment Strategy proposals were to allocate a further £50m for investment in 2020/21 onwards, to enable the Council to start to generate the commercial revenue that would be needed.

Members made the following observations and comments in the debate that followed:

·         Employer Pension Contributions – it was confirmed that the up-front lump sum payment of three years of contributions would be funded from the earmarked reserve fund set aside for this purpose, plus a contribution from General Fund Reserves at the beginning of 2020/21. It would not be funded from borrowing. The Council would receive c1% interest a year if the funds remained  in Reserves. Paying up-front meant there would be the equivalent of a 4% discount, so it was in the interests of the Council to take this option offered by Surrey County Council. It was noted that the success of the largely equity-based pension fund investment depended on how the market performs over the next three years. The Council was making a judgement  ...  view the full minutes text for item 31.

32.

Constitution of Local Plan Scrutiny Review Panel 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 100 KB

To receive a report on the constitution of the Local Plan Scrutiny Review Panel 2019/20 to consider consultation responses to draft Supplementary Planning Documents.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members received a report on the constitution of the Local Plan Scrutiny Review Panel 2019/20 to consider consultation responses to draft Supplementary Planning Documents.

It was proposed to reconvene this Panel to consider the public consultation responses to the revised Supplementary Planning Documents (SPDs) on Affordable Housing, Barn and Farm Conversions, Historic Parks and Gardens and Reigate Shopfront SPDs. These are currently out for public consultation until 8 February.

Five nominations were put forward who were: Councillors Allcard, Blacker, Parnall (Conservative Group), Councillor Harp (Residents’ Association) and Councillor McKenna (Green Party).

RESOLVED – that the Committee reconvenes the Local Plan Scrutiny Review Panel 2019/20 to consider the consultation responses to draft Supplementary Planning Documents and agrees the membership.

 

33.

Future Work Programme - January 2020 pdf icon PDF 125 KB

To consider updates to the Work Programme for the Overview and Scrutiny Committee for 2020 and to consider the Action Tracker from the previous meeting.

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Minutes:

Members considered the Future Work Programme for the Committee for 2020 and the Action Tracker from the previous meeting.

Members asked for an update on their request for officers to review the deeds relating to Reigate Baths Trust. It was confirmed that work was underway but as these went back many years it required some time to investigate.

Members asked if written responses to questions asked at meetings which were emailed to Committee Members could be included in the agenda papers and published on the public website (similar to questions answered at Full Council). It was agreed that unless the information was confidential in nature these could be made publicly available.

Members asked if they could have more information following the written answer on trade waste. The question would be clarified after the meeting and an appropriate follow-up response given.

RESOLVED - that the Future Work Programme for 2020 be noted.

34.

Executive

To consider any items arising from the Executive which might be subject to the ‘call-in’ procedure in accordance with the provisions of the Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rules set out in the Constitution.

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Minutes:

It was reported that there were no items arising from the Executive that might be subject to the ‘call-in’ procedure in accordance with the provisions of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee Procedure Rules.

35.

Any other urgent business

To consider any item(s) which, in the opinion of the Chairman, should be considered as a matter of urgency - Local Government Act 1972, Section 100B(4)(b).

(NOTE: Under the Committee and Sub-Committee Procedure Rules set out in the Constitution, items of urgent business must be submitted in writing but may be supplemented by an oral report.)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no items of urgent business.